HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Five years after getting involved, environmental watchdog group The Outdoor Circle says it's now against the Honolulu rail project.
The Outdoor Circle has 13 members on its board of directors. About half are new and with the turnover comes new views on rail.
"We just feel it's no longer possible for us to say we can work with the city on this, now we have to step up and try to do something to stop the project," said Bob Loy, Outdoor Circle Director of Environmental Programs. "There's just no way the city is going to be able to resolve the problems that the rail will create."
They've been meeting with the city about the 900 trees that will be removed along the route and they don't like how the rail will block views. But the train was always going to be elevated and the trees always removed. So where were they in the beginning or even three years ago before the public vote?
"If The Outdoor Circle is guilty of anything in this regard it's trying to work with the city too much on the project. Maybe we should have come to this decision earlier but trying not to be a road block organization who is going to step up and stand in the way of a project like this we were trying to work as closely as we could to have a collaborative relationship with the city and it just hasn't worked out well," said Loy. "When the city said later on in the project we'll show you that we are going to mitigate these losses they really weren't telling the truth because that just hasn't come about."
Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle isn't necessarily surprised by the new opposition. He says as projects start to move forward that's when more people try to hold it back.
"I don't know why there were hiding under a rock and decided to come out with this nonsense now but it's toward the end and they're getting all kinds of people screaming about it," said Mayor Carlisle.
The Outdoor Circle wants to stop the project but it doesn't exactly have the money to file its own lawsuit. So it's thinking about joining the current lawsuit with rail opponents Cliff Slater, Former Governor Ben Cayetano, Judge Walter Heen, Hawaii's Thousand Friends, Small Business Hawaii, Randall Roth and Dr. Michael Uechi.
Either way the mayor isn't too concerned.
"This is going to go forward plain and simple. It's what we need desperately and oh by the way mass transportation, public transportation is sort of good for the environment and if they can't figure that out that's their problem," said Mayor Carlisle.
"We are disappointed to hear about the Outdoor Circle's opposition to the project. We have been working regularly with them regarding the tree relocation process and working diligently to accommodate their numerous requests," said Scott Ishikawa, Honolulu Rail Transit Project Spokesperson, in a written statement. "We have provided site tours to the Outdoor Circle staff of our work areas, including our nursery where the trees are temporarily housed. We also meet with them regularly for updates. As part of the project, hundreds of trees are slated to be replanted and landscaping plans are being prepared for the rail route."